Cloud Security

All You Need to Know About Kubernetes Security Posture Management (KSPM)

Kubernetes security posture management, or KSPM, is a set of tools and best practices for securing Kubernetes-focused cloud environments through automation.

Anand Prakash

Written by Anand Prakash

November 23, 2022 | 5 min read

Kubernetes Security

Kubernetes has evolved from a mere tech buzzword to the de facto standard for container orchestration and management at scale, with more widespread adoption than ever before. Adoption, however, is just one part of the Kubernetes strategy. DevSecOps teams still need to figure out how to monitor and manage the overall security posture of the infrastructure as it gets more intricate. 

The security issues raised by cloud-native development in general, have increased the demand for specialized solutions like Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM), which helps automate cloud infrastructure configuration and eliminate the need for repetitive manual intervention.

Like cloud deployments, Kubernetes security concerns can be addressed using a custom Kubernetes security posture management (KSPM) solution, which is a complement to CSPM. Kubernetes Security Posture Management solutions use automation tools to detect and fix security misconfigurations within the various Kubernetes components. 

Continue reading this post to learn all you need to know about KSPM including how it works, and how to implement it across multiple use cases.

What is Kubernetes Security Posture Management?

Kubernetes security posture management, or KSPM, is a set of tools and best practices for securing Kubernetes-focused cloud environments through automation. KPSM works by assisting SOC teams in defining a set of security policies, automatically running security scans across K8s workloads, detecting K8s misconfigurations, and resolving any security misconfiguration issues. As a result, KSPM assists SOC teams in continuously evaluating and strengthening their Kubernetes environments’ internal security posture.

It is significant to note that because of the inherent complexity of expanding workloads, businesses initially adopted KSPM to offer a second opinion on Kubernetes security and compliance. This is due to the rapid rise of cloud-native deployments concerning K8s adoption, which has resulted in a scarcity of K8s security experts, whose services are desperately needed to secure K8s infrastructures. KSPM solutions are, therefore, useful for providing automation tools for security and compliance use cases while minimizing manual interventions in Kubernetes implementations.

How Does KSPM Work?

Although different Kubernetes Security Posture Management solutions take varied approaches when implementing KSPM workflows, there are specific steps that remain the same. Like any modern DevSecOps team approach, KSPM workflows are integrated early into the CI/CD pipeline by leveraging automation in key steps including: – defining the security policies, scanning the configurations, detecting, and assessing any K8s risks, and eventually remediating the identified issues.

1. Defining Security Policy Configurations

Determining the Kubernetes security policies and goals that will be enforced by the KSPM tooling is the first step in Kubernetes Security Posture Management. Even though some KSPM solutions come with predefined policy templates, many also come with customizable policy options that let administrators create custom policy configurations. For instance, you can create Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) policies to enforce the principle of least privilege and eliminate any access privileges for inactive users. As a result, KSPM will be able to detect any RBAC misconfiguration relating to unauthorized entry requests from potential hackers.

2. Scanning Policy Configurations

Once established, the predefined security policy rules will be used as configuration rules by the KSPM tools to automatically check the Kubernetes environment for any violations. Configuration scanning should be conducted continuously to evaluate each resource whenever a new policy is introduced, or an existing configuration is updated. For instance, KPSM can check for RBAC policy violations like compromised service accounts that do not adhere to the least privileged access principle or inactive accounts from former employees who have left the company.

3. Detecting, Assessing, and Alerting on Policy Violations

When a configuration violation is detected during scanning, the KSPM tools collaborate to assess the severity level of the anomaly and, if critical, generate a real-time alert to notify the operators. Otherwise, less serious issues are logged for later resolution by the team.

4. Remediating Policy Violation Issues

When the security or compliance teams are notified of a policy violation, they investigate and fix the issue. In some cases, advanced KSPM tools automatically resolve issues. For example, KSPM could automatically solve RBAC by removing any service accounts belonging to inactive users.

Why Kubernetes Security Posture Management Is Important

Workload containerization has emerged as one of the key pillars of modern cloud-native software. Thus, discussing enterprise security without addressing container security and workload protection is impossible. With Kubernetes clusters becoming the de facto standard for orchestrating container workloads, enterprises must integrate K8s security throughout the container lifecycle.

The four C’s of cloud-native security – cloud, cluster, container, and code – form the basis of Kubernetes security, ensuring a robust security posture across the entire infrastructure.

As part of a broader Kubernetes security strategy, KSPM offers organizations a streamlined approach to cloud-native security while navigating the complexities of the expanding Kubernetes infrastructure.

Most aspects of K8s security are automated by KSPM, which helps organizations reduce the risk of human error and misconfigurations that could lead to a security breach while also enforcing Kubernetes compliance standards. The flexible policy-oriented approach of the KSPM also ensures that SOC teams can predefine security policies that dynamically enforce security rules in the Kubernetes ecosystem, allowing any violation threats to be detected, assessed, and remediated automatically, at scale and speed.

Other benefits of Kubernetes Security Posture Management include:

Detecting Human Errors and Overlooks

KSPM helps mitigate human operator error by thoroughly checking any misconfigurations on Kubernetes resources that may leave security holes for a potential breach.

Managing Kubernetes Cluster Security at Scale

As Kubernetes clusters evolve, KSPM scans for any version updates that may circumvent some older policies. As a result, security teams are notified to update their security policy configurations.

Enforcing Kubernetes Compliance

Policy engines power KSPM tooling, ensuring configurations adhere to a set of predefined security rules and compliance requirements. KSPM, for example, may have policies that enforce compliance frameworks like GDPR and HIPAA.

Validating Third-Party Configuration Risks

The modern cloud-native development approaches heavily rely on third-party integrations, which may pose security risks to the entire software. As a result, KSPM assists teams in scanning these external resources for potential security and compliance issues.

Conclusion

As Kubernetes becomes more mainstream—used by more organizations and in more production environments—it becomes more prone to cyberattacks. It makes sense that an orchestration platform with multiple containerization workloads to manage across multiple locations would struggle to manage multiple clusters using multiple services with what appears to be an infinite number of components and thousands of configuration options.

As demonstrated in this post, keeping all of these Kubernetes infrastructure components secure necessitates high-level monitoring of both their specific and overall configurations. This may be difficult to implement continuously and without errors. This is where Kubernetes Security Posture Management, or KSPM, comes in: it manages Kubernetes security automatically by identifying and resolving any security issues using unique policy configurations.

To get the most out of your KSPM solution, you must have complete visibility not only into your Kubernetes clusters but also into your entire cloud infrastructure. This will keep you one step ahead of your attackers because you will be able to review and correct all aspects of your cluster configurations. 

PingSafe’s platform helps you achieve this by identifying vulnerabilities, misconfigurations, and non-adherence to compliance standards and enforcing proper access controls in your container workloads.

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